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In the last decade, Australia's marine and coastal policy-makers have sought to involve both the broad community and specific stakeholders in the development of policy for the marine and coastal environments, and in the stewardship of these environments. Such community involvement can lead to capacity-building within agencies, stakeholder groups and the community at large. In this paper we review the recent history of marine and coastal policies in Australia and, using specific examples, show that five elements of capacity-building, namely integrative place-making, collaborative policy-making, inclusive stakeholder involvement, and building relational resources, have emerged to some extent in Australian coastal and marine policies of the 1990s. We suggest that opportunities exist for developing these elements further, and that the process of collaborative learning is one way to help achieve this.